At the suggestion of Takuan Seiyo, our French correspondent l’échappée belle translated the following letter from Prof. André Savelli to the President of Algeria. Mr. Seiyo assisted with the translation, and includes an explanatory preface.
This letter was issued in 2007 by the French (Morocco born) Algerian expatriate professor of medicine, André Savelli. It was probably in reply to a speech that Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, had given in Paris on April 17, 2006. As reported in The Scotsman a day later, Bouteflika stated that French colonization had wrought “the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions.” Even stronger accusations of literal genocide and “barbarity” by the French in Algeria had been made profusely since the 1960s, including in this 2001 interview with Algeria’s first president Ahmed Ben Bela.
The lefto-white, self-flagellating establishment, riding shotgun for biased Algerian polemicists, sees the history of the French occupation of Algeria in the same way, e.g. here. It is the only side to which American students are exposed, if at all, and probably the same is true in France as well.
There is a cultural war going on, in France and elsewhere in the West. While it’s certain that various accusations against French colonial rule can be validly supported, there is a very vast other side — and that side is taboo. We thought it would be fair to peek at that side.
The topic is highly sensitive in France, for historical reasons for which many Frenchmen died in the mid-20th century Algerian War and before, but also because of the Euromed-flogging French PC regime and its appeasement of France’s large and volatile Maghrebian minority.
Professor Savelli’s letter made a big splash and was the subject of much discussion in the French media after its release. It was a quick letter, and it does not dwell nearly fully on where most of the barbarity was perpetrated in that conflict. That can be learned from interviews with the surviving French settlers and soldiers of the Algerian war. We reproduce the letter below, translated from the French text that was posted in the blog of the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde in December 2007.
Letter of André Savelli to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of the Republic of Algeria
In throwing the insult of “genocide of Algerian identity” by France in our face, you knew well that this “identity” never existed before 1830. Mr. Ferrat Abbas and the first nationalists acknowledged having sought it in vain. You demand now repentance for barbarity, but you invert the roles! It was the Maghreb or Ifriqiya, from Libya to Morocco that was barbarous. These people, of Phoenician (Punic), Berber (Numidian) and Roman origins were, before the VIIIth century, majority Christian (with 500 bishoprics, including that of St. Augustine, Hippo/Annaba). These farming regions were prosperous.
Should we forget that the Arabs, recently Islamized nomads coming from the Middle East, invaded the Maghreb and forcibly converted these peoples “béçif” (by the sword)? “Fight your enemies in the war for religion. Kill your enemies anywhere you will find them” (Koran, sura II, 186-7). The religious motivation was then broadened by the opportunity to take spoils, silver, precious stones, treasure, cattle…including human cattle, bringing back hundreds of thousands of herded Berber slaves; all of this legitimized by the Koran as rewards to the fighters of the holy war (XLVIII, 19, 20). And after several centuries of Arab-Islamic domination, there was nothing left of the Punic-Berber-Roman era, so rich, but ruins (Abder-Rahman ibn Khaldoun el Hadrami, History of the Berbers, T I, p.36-37,40,45-46. 1382)
Should we also forget that the Ottoman Turks invaded the Maghreb over three centuries, keeping the Arab and Berber tribes in semi-slavery, despite sharing the same religion, letting them fight amongst themselves and taking their cut, without constructing anything in exchange?
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Should we forget that these Turks developed high-sea piracy using their slaves? The Barbary pirates boarded all the merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, allowing, besides the taking of booty, the traffic of Christian slaves… men, women and children. In the Algiers of 16th century corsairs, there were more than 30,000 slaves in chains. Hence the attempts to destroy these bases since the time of Charles Quint, followed by English, Dutch and even American bombardments … The Beys of Algiers and other cities sustained themselves by trickery and force. The Bey of Constantine, destitute at our arrival, swore to have chopped off 12,000 heads during his reign. Should it be forgotten that slavery existed in Africa for ages and still exists? Well-off Moslem families all had African slaves. The first slave traders, Mr. President, were themselves blacks who sold their brothers to the Moslems of the Middle-East, in the Indies and in Africa (especially North Africa), centuries before the appearance of the Trade Triangle with the Americas and the Antilles, which does not at all excuse the latter, even if domestic slaves were often well treated.
Should we forget that in 1830, the French came to Algiers to destroy the barbaric Ottoman dens who ransacked the Mediterranean Sea, and to liberate the slaves and, finally, to lift the Turkish yoke from the oppressed Arab and Berber tribes? Should we forget that in 1830, there were around 5,000 Turks, 100,000 mixed Turko-Arabs, 350,000 Arabs and 400,000 Berbers in this region of Maghreb where an organized country never existed since the time of the Romans? Every tribe made its own laws and fought the other tribes; this was encouraged by the Ottomans in order to divide and conquer.
Should we forget that in 1830, the populace was under- developed, subjected to epidemics and to malaria? The most evolved talebs, who served as doctors (hakems), followed the recipes of the great man of science “Bou Krat” (Hippocrates), which were over 2,000 years old at the time. Medicine has seriously evolved since!
Should we forget that, contrary to genocide, such as the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks, the massacre of the Indians by the Americans, the massacre of the Aborigines by the English and the massacre of the Romano-Berbers by the Arabs between 700 and 1500, France treated, thanks to French doctors (servicemen at first, then civilians) the entire Maghreb population, bringing it from less than a million in 1830 in Algeria, to ten million in 1962.
Should we forget that France respected the Arab language, imposing it even to the detriment of Berber, of tamashek and other dialects, and respected religion (unlike the Arabs, who forced Christian Berbers to Islamize or be killed, from which the name “Kabyle” (“I accept”) originates?)
Should we forget that in 1962, despite serious errors and injustices, France left the Algerian population in a state of massive demographic growth? Although often poor, (lacking the time to pass from the medieval age into the 20th century), they were in good health, with agriculture that again became rich thanks to the French-planted test gardens, factories, dams, mines, oil, gas, harbors, airports, road and rail networks, schools, a Pasteur Institute, hospitals and a university, and a postal system. There was nothing before 1830. The installation of long-term facilities and the disarming of the tribes was key for the birth of the State of Algeria.
Should we forget that the French settlers drained, inter alia, the malarial marshes of Mitidja, at the cost of many lives, to develop the most fecund plain of Algeria, a storehouse of fruits and vegetables, transformed, since their departure, into industrial wasteland?
Should we forget that France fostered the progressive evolution of social institutions from a tribal system into a Nation State, the evolution of men from a condition of subjection to that of nascent citizenship, (although, I admit, not rapidly enough)? Colonialism, or rather colonization, launched the Maghreb, via Algeria, into the epoch of globalization.
Should we forget that in 1962, a million Europeans were forced to leave Algeria, abandoning their property so as not to be slaughtered or, at best, to become second-class citizens, dhimmis, despised and victimized, like in so many Islamized countries? The same is true of some hundred thousands of Israelites, whose forefathers had established themselves there 1000 years before the first Arab Muslim settlers. Was this a war of independence or of religion? Should we forget that, during our departure in 1962, besides the savage slaughter of at least 75,000 Harkis, a true crime against humanity, and thousands of Europeans killed or missing, (before and after the excesses of the OAS), there were more than 200,000 Algerians killed, those who refused a single party, many more than during the war of Algeria. It is this war of independence, with its atrocities and terror on both sides that founded Algerian identity. Men are made that way!
Mr. President, you know that France educates good doctors, as well as good teachers. You chose, with your prime minister, to be treated by my associates at the Val de Grâce Hospital. One of them, Lucien Baudens, created the first School of Medicine of Algiers in 1832, insisting on the enrollment of indigenous students. These historical reminders will encourage you, perhaps, Mr. President, to acknowledge that France left you the richest country that she knew how to build, thanks to the work of all populations, from the poorest to wealthiest, the latter having often experienced precarious beginnings. France also created your country’s name which replaced that of Barbary. Nobody will ask you to apologize for having let it all go downhill, but how do you explain why so many of your subjects, every day, leave Algeria for France? In fact, is not the past, demonized and deliberately misrepresented, used by one faction to control the Algerian territory? I offer my respects to the President of the Algerian Republic, because I honor this office. A French citizen,
Professeur, Val de Grâce Hospital
Professor André Savelli was born in 1927 in Rabat (Morocco) to parents originating from Blida and Oued El Aleug. The eldest of seven boys, he attended high school in Rabat. He entered the Medical University of Algiers in 1945, then the School of Public Health in Lyon. He passed his thesis in Algiers under the direction of Professor Benhamou and spent three years as a military doctor in In Salah before joining the 1st Franco-Algerian Infantry Division in Blida. In 1961, Prof. Savelli became head of the psychiatric service of the Maillot Hospital and then was named Full Professor at the Val de Grâce Military Teaching Hospital — perhaps the most prestigious hospital in France, in which the addressee of his letter, President Bouteflika, has been treated. He then taught psychopathology at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Montpellier and Criminal Psychiatry at its Law Faculty. He is the author of some one hundred publications in psychopathology. Prof. Savelli is a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, Officer of the National Order of Merit and member of the Academy of Sciences and Humanities of the University of Montpellier.